Retired Army Capt. Sam Brown Mounts 2nd Bid for US Senate in Nevada After Losing GOP Primary in 2022

July 11, 2023
Nevada Republican Senate hopeful Sam Brown

RENO, Nev. — Retired Army Capt. Sam Brown made his long-awaited U.S. Senate candidacy official on Monday, jumping into the race to take on Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen a year after losing the Republican nomination to challenge Nevada’s other U.S. senator.

Brown’s campaign confirmed his bid Monday morning, and he’ll host an event near Reno in the afternoon to expand on his campaign vision and outline key stances.

Brown, a Purple Heart recipient, was a heavily recruited candidate for Republicans in Washington looking to avoid a repeat of their lackluster showing in last year’s midterms, when flawed GOP candidates helped Democrats win battleground races and hold on to the Senate majority.

He will face a challenge in the Republican primary from Jim Marchant, a former state Assembly member who lost last year’s race for Nevada secretary of state after promoting Donald Trump’s lies of a stolen 2020 election.

Rosen, a first-term moderate in a presidential battleground state, is one of Republicans’ top targets in 2024. Democrats are facing a challenging 2024 Senate map, where they must defend incumbents not only in red states — Montana, Ohio and West Virginia — but also in multiple swing states.

Brown, who was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan that scarred his face, made military service central to his unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign. He finished second in the Republican primary to former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who went on to lose the general election to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Brown campaigned on the slogan of “Duty First” and founded the Duty First PAC after his loss to support conservative candidates. At campaign stops, he often told the story of the IED bomb that hit him, leading to dozens of surgeries, the leadership he learned while in the Army, and his Christian faith and sacrifice — “suffering that builds our endurance.”

Brown, who lives in Reno, also ran on a mix of conservative tenets and several specific positions related to Nevada, including protecting gun laws, mining Nevada’s natural resources to increase energy independence and giving more power to local school boards to determine school curriculum rather than the state.

Rosen has posted strong fundraising numbers in her first reelection run. An ally handpicked by legendary Nevada Democrat Harry Reid to run for his former Senate seat, Rosen has steered a moderate path during her first term in the chamber. She was a first-term congresswoman from a Las Vegas-area district when she defeated GOP Sen. Dean Heller in 2018. Before that, she was president of a prominent Jewish synagogue in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson.

National Republicans had long recruited Brown, seeing his ability to raise money from the party’s grassroots and his profile as a war hero as a plus in a solidly purple state known for often unpredictable, razor-thin outcomes.

In 2022, Nevada featured the closest Senate race in the nation when Cortez Masto defeated her Republican challenger, Laxalt, by just 8,000 votes. The race was decided by mail ballots that arrived at county offices days after Election Day and resulted in a nearly weeklong vote count that ended up securing Democrats’ control of the Senate.

Marchant, the other major Republican candidate, has pushed to eliminate voting machines, has falsely said that all Nevada elected officials since 2006 have been “installed by the deep-state cabal.”

Brown and Laxalt did not disagree on many policy stances during their sometimes-heated primary battle, though Brown said that Laxalt did not push hard enough in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results when Laxalt chaired Trump’s 2020 Nevada campaign. Brown helped Laxalt campaign after losing to him.


Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.

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